HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – As Draft time rolls around and we learn about the next class of NBA rookies, there’s a desire to compare each to players we’re already familiar with.
No two players are exactly alike and some players are more unique than others. But you can find comparisons by watching video, crunching stats or matching measurements. For this exercise, we did the latter two.
Listed below are four of the top picks, along with the current NBA players they compare with most. For this exercise, we looked at 10 stats from each player’s last season in college, and eight measurements taken at the annual pre-draft combine.
Because we used college numbers and combine numbers, the only current players we could compare this year’s prospects to were the ones who played in college (so no LeBron James or Dwight Howard) and participated in the combine since 2000 (Rajon Rondo is one notable name missing in that respect).
The following comparisons aren’t gospel, of course, but they’re one way to get read for the draft on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). (more…)
SAN ANTONIO – For all those years and more than a thousand games under Jerry Sloan, the Jazz were the Jazz. Sure, they watched video and analyzed stats and scouted opponents.
But at the end of every day, the Jazz were the Jazz. They played at their pace, played their style, played their game. Come beat us, they said. We’ll do what we do.
Part of the trouble with the Jazz in this matchup with the Spurs is that they have not been able to establish the identity that helped them close the season with a rush and get into the playoffs. Utah has not been able to pound the ball inside to their bigger, bulkier, supposedly tougher front line.
Near-rookie coach Tyrone Corbin seems unsure of himself about when to go big and as a result he’s allowing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to dictate the lineups and the pace of play. It’s been the Spurs who are getting the ball inside and doing damage close to the basket.
Let’s be clear: Only the Jazz can clinch tonight. A victory at Energy Solutions Arena would leave Utah at 35-30 and Phoenix at 33-32, each with one game left.
But if Phoenix wins — the way it has won the past seven meetings in this series — the teams would be tied at 34-31. The Suns hold the tiebreaker already, thanks to their 2-0 mark head-to-head, with victories on March 14 and April 4.
The Suns are 14-18 on the road, though they have won four in a row in Salt Lake City. Utah is 23-8 at home, winning the past four. But the last time the Jazz beat Phoenix anywhere, Jerry Sloan was their coach and his starting five was Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur. It’s been 25 months.
“We got to go into Utah – tough environment, tough atmosphere, tough team – and we got to win,” Suns guard Shannon Brown told reporters.
Said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin: “You control your own destiny. You’re not looking to anybody else to back into it. It’s all on us to do what we need to do.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As if there wasn’t already enough drama in Sacramento, the Kings have another issue looming in the near future that has nothing to do with a new arena or squabbling between ownership and civic leaders.
Sooner or later they have to decide what to do with the former Rookie of the Year and former prized point guard Tyreke Evans, the former face of the franchise who has been replaced in the starting lineup by another promising rookie, Isaiah Thomas.
There isn’t a more dangerous gamble than giving up too soon on a lottery pick. Teams do it all the time with mixed results — sometimes that picks turns out to be Chauncey Billups, Joe Johnson or Tyson Chandler and sometimes he turns out to be Devin Harris or even Adam Morrison. There is really no crystal ball that allows an organization the luxury of knowing whether they have a championship piece or All-Star, a competent starter or a complete bust.
The jury is still out on Evans, whose skills and size suggest he should be able to determine his own fate based on his performance. But he’s become something of an enigma in Sacramento, where there seems to be a fundamental debate about his best position and whether or not he has the makeup to be a leader for a struggling franchise.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – As far as NBA beefs go, this new DeMarcus Cousins-Devin Harris feud is still searching for space among some of the legendary on-court battles of yesteryear.
Kurt Rambis vs. Kevin McHale, Karl Malone vs. Isiah Thomas or Bill Laimbeer vs. half the league, this is not.
But in an era where it seems players around the league are as friendly as they have ever been, this is a budding beef worth taking note of, if for no other reason that both parties have acknowledged the discord.
Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins and Jazz guard Devin Harris were involved in a tense moment early during the Utah’s 103-102 victory on Thursday. Cousins attempted to save a loose ball and felt that Harris blocked his path. Cousins immediately got in Harris’ face, who stood his ground and coldly stared at the Kings forward. Cousins quickly became heated while Harris kept staring — never backing down and barely moving. The two were soon separated.
Cousins on Harris (video included): Yo, honestly I’m tired of the kid. And I mean, like really, I don’t know what his issue is. I’m tired of the kid, honestly. I’m tired of him. I don’t know what his issue is, but I can definitely solve it.
Harris on Cousins: It goes back to the last game. … He’s trying to get in my head and I’m trying to get in his. I can’t let anybody push me around.
The feud dates back to Feb. 28, when the Jazz fell 103-96 at Sacramento. Cousins was called for a technical foul in the game, after bumping into Harris during an inbounds play.
It’s time to hit up the waiver wire during the best part of the fantasy season as the playoffs are upon us. I haven’t been with y’all for a couple weeks, so I’m doubling your pleasure with 10 names that could come to the rescue for your team.
In separate moves on deadline day, the Lakers shipped Derek Fisher to Houston and brought in Ramon Sessions from the Cavaliers to solidify the point guard position.
Ramon isn’t starting yet, but he averaged 8.5 points and 5.5 assists in 22 minutes in his first two games in Purple and Gold. Lakers coach Mike Brown recently told reporters Steve Blake may keep the starting job for the remainder of the season, but I’m not buying it. You don’t ship out Five-Ring Fisher and then not start his replacement. It may take another week or two, but when Sessions gets promoted, he’ll flirt with double-doubles on a nightly basis.
As soon as the Warriors selected this sharp-shooting two-guard with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, the writing was on the wall regarding Monta Ellis’ future in Oakland. It was only a matter of time before Monta was dealt, which happened last Tuesday, opening the starting gig for Thompson.
In five games as a starter, Thompson is averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.2 3s in 36.2 minutes. The rookie is light on rebounds and steals, and he’s shooting just 40 percent since the promotion, but the points and 3s are a nice boost this late in the season. (more…)
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS –Brook Lopez is definitely back. He put on an offensive show for the Nets last night in their win over the Mavericks.
A trade deadline cynic would argue that he was being showcased as well. He’s long been rumored to be the piece the Nets would have to deliver to the Magic in a potential blockbuster deal for Dwight Howard.
The broken right foot that cost Lopez 32 games this season appears to be in fine shape, he dropped 38 points and the go-ahead free throw to power the Nets over the Mavericks last night. His every move will be analyzed as the perfect bait for the Magic, who have to make a decision to either deal or not deal Howard before the March 15 deadline.
Deron Williams gushed about his current big man after the win over the Mavs, telling reporters:
“He was a monster tonight. He carried us from the start of the game and it makes a difference, I’ve said it all season. … He knows how to play the game and we’re glad to have him back.”
Williams has to be measured in his praise. And the Nets have to be careful with Lopez, who outside of his ability score, isn’t in Howard’s category in any way. If they see him play at a high level for long enough, they might start to rethink this notion of moving him for Howard or anyone else.
Still, you can’t argue that Lopez has great timing. The Nets have won three of their last five games, and that includes wins over the Bulls, Knicks and now, the reigning champs.
BEASLEY BEING SHOWCASED, TOO?
Go ahead and add Timberwolves’ forward Michael Beasley to the list of players being showcased as the trade deadline draws near. So what if he’s still coming off the bench.
Rookie Derrick Williams and Beasley dropped 27 points a piece as the Timberwolves knocked off the Clippers in Los Angeles. They’ve both been overshadowed this season by All-Star power forward Kevin Love and rookie sensation Ricky Rubio. But with rumors swirling about the Timerbwolves hoping to get involved in a potential deal for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, Beasley would have to be a part of that deal.
Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Western Conference is wacky. Which team that is now, this second, playoff-bound is most likely to miss the playoffs?
Steve Aschburner: Utah. Devin Harris instills zero confidence in me right now. I’m not sold on the Jazz at either end of the floor, and I’m especially not sold on their home/road breakdown so far. After just six road games, and a 2-4 mark in them, the Jazz have miles to go – literally – to demonstrate they can be as good away from Salt Lake City as they’ve been (10-3) at home.
Fran Blinebury: The Lakers are slow, old, without a bench, rely too much on the “inspiration” of Metta World Peace and are dangling by a tendon in Kobe Bryant’s right hand. If he goes down, the Purple Palace crumbles.
Scott Howard-Cooper: I take no pleasure in saying it, but the Jazz. Too much youth, too little dependable play at point guard. They will get to the playoffs one day and stay there a long time. In a tight race, though, experience matters, a lot. (more…)
LONDON — Phase 2 of Sell-Deron-Williams-on-the-Nets kicked into high gear here Friday afternoon with the arrival of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, who hit town just in time to see Williams lead the Nets to the first regular season win on European soil in NBA history.
But Prokhorov shared some of his thoughts on the Nets’ plan before the game. Sitting on a panel with NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment chairman Larry Tannenbaum, Prokhorov admitted that this time in London would be his first opportunity to sit down and begin selling Williams on the Nets face-to-face.
“We only had a 10-minute chat after the game and he was really tired,” Prokhorov said of the time they spent chatting after a game in San Antonio the day after the Nets snagged Williams in a trade with Utah for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, two first-round draft picks and cash. “I think we will meet here in London for a more substantial meeting, for a global discussion. For me, it is very interesting, the reaction of an All-Star player, what he is feeling about what is going on in the global world. I have one approach, maybe he feels something different.
“But from that first meeting, we have a lot in common. He wants to be No. 1, we want to be No. 1. We are on the same page. That is very important.”
Prokhorov had to like what he saw from Williams Friday night. The two-time All-Star scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime and also finished with 11 assists as the Nets pulled away late to snap a six-game losing streak.
Even more important, though, was the way Williams owned the floor and the flow of the game when he was out there. In Brook Lopez (25 points) and Williams, the Nets already have two of the pieces they’ll need to reshape their team into a playoff contender in the next year.
But they also have a time crunch they are dealing with. Williams can become a free agent in the summer of 2012. He said he won’t make a decision until it’s time. That gives Prokhorov and the Nets a little time to make their case, one strong enough to sway Williams into making the move from New Jersey to Brooklyn after next season.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last time the Hawks swung a trade deadline deal for a point guard, they got Mike Bibby from Sacramento and proceeded to make the playoffs three years in a row with the veteran big shot artist directing their attack.
That was February 2008. Fast forward to now and the Hawks are still trying to find the right fit at point guard. They traded Bibby, Mo Evans, Jordan Crawford and their 2011 first-round Draft pick to Washington for Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong yesterday.
The Hawks are trying, once again, to solve the point guard problems that have plagued them since Draft night 2005, when they passed up Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Raymond Felton to take Marvin Williams with the No. 2 pick.
“In hindsight, that might be the biggest top three Draft mistake since the Pistons took Darko [Milicic],” an Eastern Conference executive said. “And it’s not just about the player you take, it’s about the player or players you pass up when you make that pick.”
The Pistons passed on Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to take Milicic after LeBron James was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 Draft.
“Anyone that doesn’t think you’ll pay for your Draft mistakes for years to come, just take a look at the Hawks and Pistons right now,” the exec said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t have some success even with those mistakes. But at some point, you will pay for the mistake.”
The Hawks reportedly targeted both Felton and Devin Harris as potential trade pieces but came up empty both times. Bottom line: the Hawks still don’t get the point. Hinrich is yet another short-term answer to a long-term problem. He only has one year left on his deal (at $8 million), meaning the Hawks will have to make decisions about their point guard future all over again this time next year.
Jeff Teague, the Hawks’ second-year point guard, is clearly not ready for a starring role … and might not be anytime soon. He was given every opportunity to supplant Bibby and couldn’t do it. He’s the latest in a long line of supposed point guard solutions that ended up being a problem (Speedy Claxton, Acie Law) for the Hawks.
They’ve tried everything at the point from Royal Ivey to Anthony Johnson to Tyronn Lue to even playing Joe Johnson at point guard during his first season with the team. That’s nine different point guard options spanning two different regimes (former general manager Billy Knight is the man who drafted Marvin Williams, paid Claxton, drafted Law and also traded for Bibby while current general manager Rick Sund is the man who shipped Claxton and Law out of town for Jamal Crawford, drafted Teague and made the deal for Hinrich).
While Hinrich is clearly an upgrade over Bibby, particularly at the defensive end, he still doesn’t solve the Hawks’ seemingly eternal point guard problem.